Hits You In The Chest Like an 808 Boooom...
I decided recently, for varying reasons (but mostly a massive desire to Just Know), that I wanted to learn everything there was about how the 606, 808, and 909 make their sounds. I have my Ideal x0x Drum Kit, which is a set I've painstakingly assembled, consisting of a 909 foot, 808 snare, 606 hats, and a mix of percussion from the three machines, some layered. I'm very happy with this kit and I use it a lot, but being me, I just can't leave well enough alone, and I figured if I knew the "why" of these sounds, I could theoretically use the concepts in making my own set, with its own mojo, not borrowed mojo.
Rambling aside, here's what I've learned: most anyone that has written on the subject of dissecting the various x0x sounds doesn't have the faintest fucking idea of what they're talking about. If I find four different learned articles on how to synthesize a 909 foot, there are four different topologies. If I build all four, I discover that at least three, if not all four, are complete fabrications, resulting in an unusable piece of shit sound that seems more like the farting of a large dog. This is the same for any of the key sounds. When you get to the "Cymbals" section of any of these various sources, they're all like "oh, those are hard. Here's how we faked it," with uniformly tragic results.
The first place I looked was the (I thought) excellent guide from Waldorf on synthesizing drums (it is here, but don't bother, seriously.) This guide is essentially worthless. They literally made shit up, because it sounded right. There is are a couple dozen articles from Sound On Sound in their "Synth Secrets" series, but those are, I've found, hit or miss. There are actually two separate articles in that series about the 909 foot, with wildly diverging topologies described. They could easily be talking about different drum machines entirely.
And heaven fucking forbid I read any forum post on the subject. Christ on crutches.
The long and short of it is this: does ANYBODY have any fucking idea whatsoever as to how to actually make these sounds? I've gotten close, real close. I'm fairly good at synthesizing percussion in general with both analog synths and boxes-n-wires softsynths, but I just can't seem to get the Mojo working, you know?
(And to save you the trouble of typing as if I'm some kind of dumb-ass ape, I'm not actually asking "how do I synthesize a 909 foot?" This is more of a meta rant. What I want to know is where the Magic Smoke is hidden on the schematic.)